Remote sensing of mining environments
With respect to mining, active, reclaimed or abandoned, Remote Sensing methods, including airborne geophysics, can contribute, in a risk assessment perspective to :
• The identification and mapping of pollution sources, e.g. tailings dams and heaps, waste rocks, infrastructures
• The identification and mapping of pollution dispersal pathways, e.g. natural and artificial drainage
• The identification and mapping of receptors at risk
• The identification, characterisation and mapping of contaminated areas, e.g. contamination plumes, contaminated soils, contaminated surface waters.
Together with other Earth Observation (EO) methods and tools (such as geochemistry, in situ measurements…), it offers a unique opportunity to collect and process spatial information to monitor and assess each phase of the mining cycle. It can contribute to help improving raw material policy and better exploiting mineral resources from the territory of mineral supplying countries, as well as to demonstrate how to improve their capacity in implementing new mining sites.
The combination of RE, EO and GIS could be an appropriate response to decision makers demand since these tools can easily associate ongoing monitoring data, environmental database layers and regulatory requirements, a set of information that can be exploited through the use of automatic and custom GIS queries.